D&D General What Does the Choice of Dice Mean for the RPG? (+)

Laurefindel

Legend
But more seriously, for me, d10 games à la Vampire: The Mascarade instill a set of expectations a lot closer to that of a d6 game than a d20 game. Vampire and the other White Wolf series were essentially d6 games cranked to 11 (well, to 10 really). True; you couldn't steal the dice from your mom's box of yhatzee or even buy them at the dollar store (at the time anyway), but they smelled, behaved, and played like d6 games.
 

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I think "all d6s means accessibility" is a misconception of game designers desperate to rope non-gamer friends and family into helping to playtest. The actual market for a ttrpg is overwhelmingly the people who already own some polyhedral dice, and planning on your mainstream expansion after you conquer that market is putting the cart years of travel ahead of the horse.

I think the real accessibility move is making any roll that would require more than two of the same die type d6s, because the people who have just dipped their toes into the hobby may have 1 or 2 of all the dice, but asking for a roll of 5 d6s, which everyone has a few extra of around the home somewhere, is still less of an imposition than asking for one of 5 d8s.
 

Clint_L

Legend
I'm starting with the caveat that I haven't put the thought into this (yet) that OP has, so my ideas are still developing and many might be better described as "hunches." In other words, I might be completely wrong. I probably am. It happens a lot.

In my gut, a d20 system (or a D100 system, even more so) signifies a "rules heavy" game. These are games that tend to want to offer lots of granular detail covering different choices that players might make in the game. There are lots of tables, for everything from weapons to spells to random encounters. AD&D even had a table for random prostitute characteristics (I am not making that up; I guess this was a big gameplay issue for Gygax and friends). In general, I associate d20 games with rules that want to offer more constraints on how the game is to be played.

D6 games tend to be more built around a specific design concept, and often are boutique games. I don't associate them with long campaigns. They are often very thematic, and can be extremely inventive with imagining new ways to generate role-play situations and player interactions. Some even challenge the basic construction of the GM/Player dynamic, such as the first edition of Fiasco (a game I still adore). Others are tailored to very specific settings and have some elements of a board game to them.

For Derek, I immediately think of my favourite (?) RPG, Dread (I know, I know, I bring it up all the time). It gets rid of dice altogether and instead uses a jenga tower. That totally changes the structure of roleplaying by making the slow build of narrative tension the centrepiece of the game. Ten Candles is a D6 game that similarly emphasizes dramatic structure over complicated rules.

So my initial, possibly stupid, thoughts are that complicated dice (d20 systems as defined by OP) tend to go with complicated games where rules are very important and the emphasis is on long campaigns, and simpler dice (d6 as defined by OP) tend to go with simpler games that emphasize one-off games. D20 games are about designer or DM control, D6 games about player freedom (and neither of those is necessarily better).

Edit: also, I tend to think of d20 games as all D&D, just with different skins on. By which I mean that the game play experience is always basically similar in terms of the relationship between the GM, players, and rules.
 
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Cadence

Legend
Supporter
My first (and still favorite) specialty dice were non-rpg from the Parker Brothers game Dungeon Dice:

vintage-parker-brothers-board-game_1_6a5f1318dea7cbaf05800701be6fda71~2.jpg
 
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kenada

Legend
Supporter
When I played Konosuba TRPG1 at Origins last year, I found I didn’t like adding up more than a few dice. That game normally uses 2d6, but some “skills” let you roll more. When I see more than two dice, my instinct is to group them together before tallying them up, which slows things down. I guess that’s the source of the issue (it feels slower). It’s different when rolling a bunch of dice for fireball because there’s a fun tension seeing all that damage add up, but when it’s a roll you make regularly (particularly in combat where both sides roll for every attack)? Not so much.



[1]: A d6 game, which I understand is common with Japanese TRPGs.
 
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My assumptions:
  • D20 - the designers have played D&D or a clone at some point so you know what you're getting into. Plus, you've never seen a critical hit shirt featuring 2d6.
  • D6 - whether it's 2d6 or dice pools the designers believe bell curves better reward skilled characters than the d20. Designed by math nerds.
  • D10 - the numbers 7 or 8 are probably important. Adamant that their game couldn't be played with d6s.
  • Special Dice - Usually d6s in shape and it's probably unnecessary, but fun. Designers wanted to be out of the box, just not too far out though.
  • Cards, chips, tarot, Jenga, etc - the vibe is the most important aspect of the game. Way more ink spent on explaining the basic resolution mechanic than other games.
  • D5, D30, etc - general accessibility and financial success take a back seat to finding a use for those weird dice you bought.
 


overgeeked

B/X Known World
[W]hat do you think the choice of dice for an RPG means for the game?
If they use a d20, it will be swingy. If they use 2d6, it won't. But that easily applies to any single die vs any dice pool system.
Before knowing anything else about an RPG game, does the knowledge of what dice it uses tell you something about the game, and what?
Yep. Unique and proprietary specialty dice that have no use outside the game itself (Genesys, etc), tell me that I won't be looking any further at that game. Specialty dice that have use outside the game itself (Fate, DCC, etc), tell me that I will at least give it a look. Not yucking anyone's yum. I already have bags and boxes of dice that I cannot use for anything other than the long out-of-print games they were designed for. I have zero interest in adding to that collection. I will gladly look at games that use funky numeric dice, like DCC, because I can use those to generate numbers which are broadly useful to any RPG and/or my own prep work for running games.
What cultural signifiers do you think are built into the choice of dice?
The d20 screams D&D. The d6 screams Traveller, WEG Star Wars, Ghostbusters, PbtA, and Over the Edge.
 

Aldarc

Legend
D6 games tend to be more built around a specific design concept, and often are boutique games. I don't associate them with long campaigns. They are often very thematic, and can be extremely inventive with imagining new ways to generate role-play situations and player interactions. Some even challenge the basic construction of the GM/Player dynamic, such as the first edition of Fiasco (a game I still adore). Others are tailored to very specific settings and have some elements of a board game to them.
Traveller. Fantasy AGE. GURPS. WEG Star Wars.
 

MGibster

Legend
I'll admit that I don't entirely understand why I'm not perturbed by FUDGE dice but I am by dice for the Genesys system or whatever weird dice MCDM pick to use.
FUDGE dice are ridiculously easy to replace with a regular d6 without being annoying. I think a 1-2 is a minus, 3-4 is nothing, and 5-6 is a plus. Something like that. Unlike FFG's Star Wars or Legend of the Five Rings dice which are nigh impossible to replace if it's even possible at all.
 

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